Stacking the Deck - Setting up your day the night before

It's that time of year again. You set all kinds of plans and resolutions to do better in the coming year. But this isn't that kind of post. How about instead of a slew of new goals, we work on better mastering all the things we already do.

We already have a mountain of email to do everyday. Perhaps we have to spend half the day in the car or in a office disconnected to the rest of our lives and commitments. There are call backs, projects, social commitments, and house chores. The last we usually follow through on are the commitments to ourselves such as eating, sleeping, exercising, and recreation. That last list we usually fail the worst at making happen with any kind of regularity.

Like most people, by the time 9-10 pm rolls around, I am done. I have breached the finish-line and nothing is getting done except decompression. The problem with that is that by the time my alarm is going off in the morning, I am already trying to cram my to-do list into my brain, along with all the steps I'm trying to convince myself not to forget. This automatically removes all of my personal needs from the equation and I am instead pumping adrenaline into my first waking hours ensuring I can somehow salvage a day that hasn't even started yet.

What if there was a better way. What if 90% of the day was already prepared for and we could just roll out of bed and calmly coast through the day. The simple answer is preparation. And I know that everyone reading this is all like - But in the last paragraph we all agreed we don't have time for that at the end of the day! And I get that, but look at it as an investment. At the end of any day that you have already prepared for, you will not be as tired at the end of. 

It's 15 minutes before you head to bed...Start with something easy.

  • Get everything out for coffee.
  • Make up your pet's breakfast with their dinner.
  • Put out all the props and tools you'll need for the next day.
  • Put your workout cloths in the car or roll out your yoga mat the night before.
  • Put your clothes in the bathroom to skip a step in the morning, (and prevent going back to bed).
  • Have your computer open to your blog, book or word processor of choice to get a jump start on that writing project. 
  • Pack a lunch, 2 snacks and 2 waters for a day when you're going to be in the car for more than 3 hours. You'll be grateful you did.
  • Write up your to-do list for the following day

It's much easier than it looks. Start with one and then each week add another. Anything done in the first 3 hours of the day can likely be started the night before, allowing you to roll through them instead of taxing yourself trying to remember them all. 

The biggest benefit to setting up the night before, is that you get to spend the first 2-3 hours of the morning being present. You will not be scanning your brain for what to do next, torturing yourself with deadlines and situations that are out of your control. Instead, the longer you can keep your mind on the present, the more focused your work will be and less stress you will feel, and you will actually get more done. As an added perk, you will be happier.

Let me know in the comments, what you decide to add to your evening setup. And for more on this topic, check out my upcoming webinar - Conquering your schedule and how to plan for success!